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How to Be a Good House Guest

Updated on June 4, 2012
Pack light! Your host doesn't have unlimited room!
Pack light! Your host doesn't have unlimited room! | Source

When you're traveling, hotels and lodging are a major expense! If you're lucky enough to find a family member, friend, or acquaintance to stay with, make sure you prepare to be a good guest with these simple tips!

First, take the short quiz below to see what kind of house guest you might tend to be. That should give you a good idea of the areas you might need to work on before you bed down at a friend or family member's house.

Then, review my Top 3 Houseguest Rules, and if you are truly determined to be the best house guest you can be, read my more detailed tips on house guest etiquette, also found below.

What kind of house guest are you?

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Top 3 House Guest Rules

  1. Pay your own way. Never allow your hosts to pay any of your food, drink, or travel expenses. They're already providing you a free place to stay. You should also contribute monetarily to the host's expenses by treating them to a nice dinner out or doing a grocery shopping trip for them, especially if you are eating and drinking their food.
  2. Lend a hand. This isn't a hotel where housekeeping is included. Clean up after yourself and contribute to the household chores during your stay. Keep the space they've provided you neat and tidy, and always strip the sheets off of the bed (and offer to wash them, if there's time) before your departure.
  3. Say "please" and "thank you." This may sound obvious, but it's easy to forget these simple courtesies when your host makes you a drink, allows you to use the laundry facilities, or helps you find your way around town. At the end of your stay, be sure to tell your host what a nice time you had, or at the very least leave a thank-you note on your bed.

Keep in mind:

Even if you do not eat your host's food or drink their beverages, you are getting a free place to stay, with water, heat/AC, and electricity!

Good Houseguest Etiquette

  • Book your stay. Make sure your hosts know exactly what your travel plans are: when you'll be arriving and when you'll be departing. If you are coming into town via plane or train, it's nice to forward your itinerary well in advance, and be sure to update your hosts should your plans change.
  • Respect the space. If your host is putting you up in a guest bedroom (or has generously displaced one of the family members to allow you private space), keep it neat and tidy. Do not throw your dirty clothes everywhere thinking you'll clean up just before you leave. Put your dirty clothes pile out of sight, or pack an expandable bag in which to store them. Similarly, keep the bathroom clean and do not leave your toiletries out. It's fine to leave your toothbrush by the sink, but don't take up all the counter space with your hair and skin products! Keep them in a caddy or zip-lock bag and carry them back to your room with you after getting ready in the morning.
  • Respect the routine. You may be on vacation, but chances are your hosts are not. Try not to disrupt their normal routine around getting ready in the morning, mealtimes, and bed time. You can always ask questions like "What time do you usually go to bed?" or "When would be the best time for me to take a shower?" if you're unsure, and your hosts will appreciate the consideration. Chances are, they will go out of their way to make things work out for you as well, but do not take it for granted.

Always strip the bed before you leave your host's home at the end of your stay!
Always strip the bed before you leave your host's home at the end of your stay! | Source

  • Offer assistance. Since your hosts have inconvenienced themselves to give you a place to stay (even if they're eager and happy to see you!), you should always be looking for ways to lighten their load. If they are providing you home-cooked meals, offer to help with the preparation. After dinner, don't ask if you can help with clean-up; instead, begin clearing plates without making comment upon it. You should insist upon washing at least one batch of dishes, even if your hosts assure you that it isn't necessary.
  • Notice (and replace) what you use. Usually, your host will invite you to "help yourself" to whatever is in the fridge or pantry. That's simply polite, and shouldn't be taken literally. If you do eat from your host's stock, be sure not to take the last of anything, and to replace what you consume. Even if you are eating out, you should take into account the beverages and household goods (like toilet paper, shampoo, etc). Offer to do a shopping trip for your hosts at some point during your stay, and ask for a list of what they need. If you end up buying things for them that you did not use, remember that you are getting a free place to stay, as well as using their water, heat/AC, and electricity.

The Golden Rule of Houseguests

It may seem overwhelming when you think about trying to be the perfect house guest, but there is one simple rule to abide by that will help everything else fall into place:

Treat your host's home and family members better than you would treat your own (even if they are your own!).

If you remember this Golden Rule, chances are you'll show your hosts the appreciation they deserve, and be asked back to stay again!

Happy traveling!


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    • Lady Tug profile image

      Kate Ann 

      4 years ago from United States

      Good advice! However, be aware that refusing hospitality is not being a gracious guest. I have always offered my house, food and drink to others with no expectations in return. I was shocked when a first time guest persistently refused everything I had to offer. She even went as far as eating her take out food with her hands as to not dirty a fork and only drinking the water she had in her car. This was frustrating for myself as I wanted to share my home and it was more inconvenient for me to constantly be turned down. I was relieved when this house guest finally left. I love having company, so I'm still sad when I think of that experience.

      Anyway, great article!

    • profile image


      5 years ago


    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      What great advice.. my mom taught me to make sure I clean up after myself and make up my bed and always help with cooking and wash the dishes.. Never let them wait on you.. I have had company for the past two weeks ends.. and they do not know how to make a bed. I have to clean up after them.. I am very tired.. so I do understand what you are talking about.

      Love your hub. I wish somehow they would read it.. lol

      blessings to you


    • Neville  Zhu profile image

      Neville Zhu 

      6 years ago

      The greater the man, the more restrained his anger.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Great advice, Maddie - we should post it on the doorway for our guests. I think it was Ben Frankline who once said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."

    • prasetio30 profile image


      6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very useful information. I should following your tips. Thanks for share with us. I have to be good house guest. Voted up and shared :-)

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      6 years ago from Northern, California

      With summer vacation at hand, this is perfectly timed and the perfect guide to being a good house guest! I love the quiz!


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Although we do not expect our house guests to help around the home, it is always a pleasure to have an extra helping hand when offered. This is a good reminder of how we should act when visiting.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Really excellent tips. It's a very generous thing to allow someone to stay at your home, and it's easy to take it for granted when the residents are family. You did a great job of explaining why it's important not to do that and outlining all the basic rules of house guest etiquette. Voted up and useful.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Great hub. Never would have thought to write on this topic but it's very helpful. The quizzes are good too.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      SUCH good advice. Now... if only we could get all house guests to read it!

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 

      6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Good points. It is so easy to be too relaxed when your in a new space even though your friends. I have fallen into the trap to my detriment of not being aware of how your hosts feel. As advised: Put yourselves in their shoes and anticipate how you would feel in the same situation.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I just recently was a house guest at an acquaintance's house and managed to get it all right except for the stripping of the bed. Great hub, I'd hope that any house guest I would ever receive would read this hub first.

    • flagostomos profile image


      6 years ago from Washington, United States

      I also say, give them a little bit of money for opening their house to you. Unless it's a really close friend or family member, it would cost at least 70-100 dollars a night for a hotel room. So why not give them at least a few dollars?

    • jdavis88 profile image

      Joseph Davis 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Excellent hub idea and a very needed read for many travelers. I liked the houseguest quiz you had, have not seen any like that before on hubpages, good job!

    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      People that allow you to live with them are doing you are great service and I think as a house guest, you should always be courteous, clean up after yourself and always help in every way that you can. Excellent hub and voted useful.

    • RTalloni profile image


      6 years ago from the short journey

      Bravo!!! Timely and so well done--important! A super post--great stuff--what more can I say?


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